Lessons learned from Ryan O’Connell’s #levin20 presentation on social media and wine marketing

Today I would like to share the presentation Ryan O’Connell from O Vineyards gave at le #levin20 – I found a video of his presentation last week and I have been thinking about what he was saying ever since.

First let me explain a little more about LE VIN 2.0 – it’s an event which was organised for wine professionals in Paris on 8th December of which the purpose was to gain a better understanding of the web.02 and use it to add value to your wines and gain access to new markets. Unfortunately yours truly unable to attend, but live stream coverage and twitter and blog post have enabled me to just about recreate the day:-)

LEVIN 2.0 (or #levin20 on Twitter) was in my opinion a very important event and evidence of this can be seen in the list of important wine web people who shared their experiences. These include amongst others Gary Vaynerchuk from Winelibrary TV, Philippe Hugon from vinternet, Marc Roisin of vinogusto.com , Yair Haidu of Haidu.net and Rowan Gormley of nakedwines .

Back to Ryan O’Connell – Ryan is a talented young winemaker who owns a vineyard and winery together with his family in Carcassone in the Languedoc. Besides making wine Ryan is quite active in Social Media – and actually although he says that girls don’t stop him in the streets (yet!) he’s quite a well known web02 wine character. In his presentation he talks about how Social Media networking has changed his marketing strategy. He compares Social Media to the more traditional way of marketing, ie wine shows. The shows is where you network and expand your professional relationships as well as try and form customer relationships. This is both possible in Social Media as well says Ryan, and in a less competitive and crowded space. At the wine shows, as a small producer on a very small stand, it is very hard to take the attention away from the larger producers who often invest in a fancy stand that draws the (professional and consumer) crowds. However, a lot of them haven’t made a similar investment in Social Media yet, so it is possible and actually very feasible for a smaller producer to steal the lime light here;-) However, fame and stardom never come easy – and so to get anywhere in Social Media a company needs to do more than just have a blog on their website, open a Facebook page and Tweet occasionally. No to make it one has to actively engage and look for relationships – both on a professional and consumer level.

As said on several occasions by Gary Vaynerchuck you have to be willing to give a lot, help people out and really work at communicating with similar minded people before things start to pay off. However if you do invest the time and effort you can and will meet awesome people online, either fans of your wine – they have had it somewhere before, and by engaging personally with these people you will create the very sought after brand loyalty. And by communicating and sharing ideas with other professionals they will open their network to you, and it is very likely that you will be introduced to someone who can and wants to sell your wine.

And as Ryan pointed out – it does help to talk about more than just your brand.. Ryan set up a regional body – Love that Languedoc – and shared that he has created a lot more interest for his wines by promoting his region rather than just the wines – it gives him a point of difference and adds more value for anybody wanting to understand Languedoc wines.

Whilst I do believe that social media is no replacement for a wine show, I know that whilst the area is not overly crowded yet, it’s a great networking tool which I highly recommend using.
I also recommend following Ryan’s example and share information on your region or country; I know from experience that if you are willing to share knowledge on more than just your vineyard you draw people to you and they will remember you for it – on or off line!

About Caroline

Caroline is a certified Sommelier (by the CMS) and WSET diploma student. In order to specialize in the wines of Champagne she moved to the region and currently works as a wine consultant, wine educator and wine writer. She is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and writes for several international publications including Palate Press, Snooth, Wine-Searcher, Decanter and Vinogusto; further activities include teaching Champagne related courses at Reims Management School and organizing personalized tasting experiences at http://www.tastingswithatwist.wordpress.com as well as being a regular judge at international wine competitions.
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10 Responses to Lessons learned from Ryan O’Connell’s #levin20 presentation on social media and wine marketing

  1. Ryan says:

    Glad you enjoyed the presentation! :)

  2. Marc Roisin says:

    Hey there! Thanks for this nice summary and for mentioning Vinogusto.com! Just added your blog to our blogroll here: http://www.vinogusto.com/blog/en/

    See you soon.


  3. Colin Smith says:

    Ryan’s use of social media has worked in that he has got me buying his wines. Isn’t that the end product he, as a winemaker/producer, wants?

    I met Ryan at a Naked Wines event as a result of which I started following him on Twitter and read his other social media output. I think the various social media tools really do generate a sense of loyalty. Ryan is now seeking funding for a book by winemakers on “Small and beautiful wine regions” and it is only because I am “following” his social media activities and feel I “know” him and his brand that I have made a donation.

    I think the challenge however for a winemaker/producer is to how to get visibility in the first place. Once you get some kind of visibility I think a savvy winemaker/producer can then generate the kind of loyalty that is possible if they are active and involved – and also useful – with social media. With Ryan that started with me meeting him face to face. With others that face to face contact may not be possible if you are small so it relies to some extent on people like us – keen bloggers and users of Twitter – making the new names known for others to follow.

    Once that happens it is in the hands of the winemaker/producer to do enough to keep themselves in the eye and mind of the end consumer in order to develop the relationship.

    • wizinwinebiz says:

      Hi Colin,
      Thank you for sharing your story and ideas. I totally agree that we wine bloggers and avid tweeters have an important role to play in helping smaller producers we are following by getting their name and story out online. However I also feel that smaller wineries can take the first steps and start spreading their message a bit more online as well – and I really hope they will follow in Ryan’s footsteps!

  4. Thanks very much for this post (pushed it on facebook)
    So glad the live stream got you recreate the day;-)
    We will definitly be organizing a 2nd edition and hope we’ll be able to have you there
    Ryan definitly sets as a great example ! Great energy and great humility as well which is key!
    Internet is the greatest of all tools to reset wineries on customer care and opportunities to grow business – if they want to – versus blame it on the market
    You’re doing a great job
    You should be adding your blog feed on WineEverybody.com so more people can follow you

  5. wizinwinebiz says:

    Hi Philippe,
    Thank you for your comment! I really think you guys did an amazing job with the #levin20 event and I will definitely participate next year!! The online coverage has been awesome and thoroughly enjoyed recreating the day:-)
    Thank you for the heads up – I have registered on WineEverybody.com and submitted my blog. I do hope I can reach out and help smaller wineries – they generally produce the beautifully skilled wines I so v much enjoy and I would like to help them to distribute their wines as this will make it easier for me to purchase them:-)

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